Helping hyperactive childrenIt has been advised that drug...

Healthwatch

June 23, 1992|By Universal Press Syndicate

Helping hyperactive children

It has been advised that drug treatment be a last resort for hyperactive children. Ritalin, one of the most widely prescribed of hyperactivity drugs, causes weight loss, irritability and other side effects. But are there practical alternatives? An encouraging study from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto tested a psychological treatment called cognitive behavior therapy on 25 7- to 13-year-olds. The boys, whose symptoms included disruptive behavior and difficulty concentrating, were given a series of individual therapy sessions plus at-home sessions with their families. Half of them received supportive counseling and additional instructions on problem-solving, like how to get along with siblings, finish homework and get to school on time. The other children were given supportive counseling, but received no other instruction. The parents of the boys who received problem-solving instruction reported the biggest improvement in their children's behavior. In addition, psychological tests showed an improvement in the boys' self-esteem. This may be the first carefully controlled study that tested a drugless treatment for hyperactivity.

Male breast cancer:

Most men are dangerously unaware that they, too, can develop breast cancer. Though the risk is substantially smaller -- slightly more than one in 1,000 men develop the disease compared with one in nine women -- proportionally more men die from it. The mistake they make is in failing to consult a doctor until the cancer is too far gone. This new study shows that men, like women, are more prone to breast cancer if they have a family history of it. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine compared 227 male breast cancer patients with 300 men who didn't have the disease. The study found that if a man had a female relative with breast cancer, he was twice as likely to develop the disease. Having a male relative with breast cancer increased his risk four times. The closer the relative by blood, the greater the risk. This is important information, but perhaps even more valuable is that this study exists in the first place, and is helping alert the public to the fact that breast cancer is about men, too.

Sneak attack of herpes:

Eighteen women in Edinburgh, Scotland, recently came down with genital herpes even though their partners were using condoms. Where did the virus come from? The mystery was solved by researchers at the University of Edinburgh when they figured out that the women's partners had passed on the infection from cold sores on their mouths during oral sex. If you occasionally get cold sores -- and most people do, sooner or later -- take heed. The virus causing the cold sores is a form of the one that leads to genital herpes, and can be transmitted from your mouth to your sexual partner's genitals even when no sores or blisters are present. It may not be realistic to avoid oral sex altogether, or to protect others using latex mouth guards. But at the very least, you should be aware of your ability to pass on the virus, and inform any sexual partners of that fact.

New health-care program:

The federal government is about to make a landmark decision on a radical new health-care program in Oregon that could open the way for all the states to plunge ahead with independent medical plans. Administration and congressional sources said the decision, expected in the next few days, is likely to allow Oregon to go ahead with its plan to expand health-care coverage to all of the state's poor while rationing coverage of some procedures for those on Medicaid. Oregon needs federal approval to implement its plan because Medicaid is a federal-state program. While the Bush administration is open to state experimentation with medical programs, its officials worry about the cost of programs like Oregon's. State officials estimate that it would take an additional $60 million in federal money to implement its three-part health-care plan, which would cover 450,000 now-uninsured people, require employers to offer insurance to their workers and ration care for Medicaid recipients by ranking medical procedures and disallowing coverage for low-priority ones. The federal government contributes $260 million to the acute-care part of Medicaid in Oregon; the state's share is $160 million. Oregon officials say their share would rise by $33 million under the new program.

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